An interview score sheet is a tool used by recruiters, hiring managers, and employers use during their hiring processes. The purpose of the sheet is to standardise how interview are carried out and how candidates are evaluated. It will often list the skills and traits which the employer believes they need for their new hire to fulfil their role effectively. Therefore, after each interview, the interviewer can refer to their score sheet to effectively ‘tick the boxes’ or rate how many of the desired characteristics the candidate displayed – as well as to what extent.

It also means that when there are multiple interviewers involved in the recruitment and interview process, they can all come together after all the interviews take place and go through the score sheet methodically, sharing how they think the candidate performed point by point. The idea behind these pre-determined standards is to attempt to maintain objectivity in candidate evaluation during the hiring process.

Does this templated approach to assessing candidates work? Does it effectively combat biases in the interview process? Does it allow those conducting the interview to be objective? Or does it create a rigid structure that fails to assess soft skills or intangibles such as cultural fit?

Let’s explore both the pros and cons of interview score sheets to try and answer those questions.

You might be interested in: the pros and cons of video vs in-person interviews.

Pros of a scoring sheet

Allows the interviewer to keep a record of their scoring

An interview score sheet allows the employer to keep a record of each individual candidate’s performance rating. This can be positive for your talent pipeline, as even if an applicant isn’t successful with the role they initially interview for, if they score highly on characteristics you think would mean they suit another position well you can interview again in the future for the role they may be a better fit for. Keeping a record also prevents any partiality which may arise with hindsight.

Could help prevent interviewer bias

Sometimes an interviewer will use a score sheet in an attempt to prevent bias in the recruitment process. The idea behind this is that as the interviewer is given set in stone characteristics to evaluate and provide a numerical rating on, they have to remain focused on those specific qualities, rather than allow any bias or prejudice they might have to creep into their decision making regarding the candidate. Often in the case of subconscious or unconscious bias, it is something the interviewer just can’t put their finger on, it is vague and fuzzy; they cannot say exactly what is they don’t like about the applicant – just that they don’t think they are right for the role. With score sheets and templates for scoring performance, there is little room for those kinds of opinions. They simply do not have a place on the interview scoresheet.

Consistency from interviewer to interviewer

The use of a scoring sheet can also help with consistency across the company when asking interview questions, and how you choose to evaluate and score candidate performace. When hiring managers or members of your HR team change, a scoring sheet maintains consistency,  giving your interview process something concrete to refer to. It also provides a structure that can be updated and revised over the years as you iterate and improve your recruitment process and interview techniques.

Easy interview feedback for candidates

If a candidate requests feedback on their interview, a scoring system gives your organisation something material to refer back to, minimising issues around foggy memories or vague feedback on how they answered the interview questions. If you include a rating scale for some of the criterion in your sheet, this can then make quick yet useful feedback even easier for you to give to the applicant. It also makes it more straightforward for the potential new employee to get focused praise and a clear idea of where they need to improve – thus improving candidate experience and ensuring they have a good relationship with your business as a potential employer.

Cons of a scoring sheet

Too formal?

Scoring a candidate during their interview can create a very formal atmosphere. If the interviewer is ticking and crossing boxes while the candidates speaks, you risk increasing the nerves for the interviewing applicant. There is also the issue of if an interviewer is so focused on making sure they give their rating and fill in all the necessary criterion on the scoring sheet, it will reduce eye contact and ability to read the candidate’s body language. It has the potential to make the interview process rote, with each interview with each new candidate playing out exactly the same as the last. This could actually make it more difficult for any individual to stand out as each interview blends into the next, impacting your ability to find the right candidate.

Setting the criterion internally

Whatever scoring system you decide to use on your scoring sheet, from rating scale to tick box, the decision on what characteristics to include on your scoring sheet has to be agreed within your organisation – which is where it can get tricky for some people. While there may be some that are easy to agree on, others are still subject to personal opinion. Do you want all entry level candidates to be degree educated or possess a certain qualification? Will you only accept people with experience in your specific industry? Are the job requirements fixed? How can you be sure that the template you are using isn’t actually excluding someone who would otherwise be a great fit for the role? These questions can cause heated debate and disagreement when deciding how to score your applicants.

Difficult to measure soft skills

Another issue with a scoring sheet being used in interviews is that the soft skills can be difficult to measure, as well as pretty subjective. If, for example, you were to use a rating scale to measure a trait like confidence, one interviewer may rate the same candidate differently to another interviewer. Some people may say being highly conversational, loud, and extroverted are indicators of confidence, while others may disagree. This can create a real obstacle for the use of scoring in your interview process, as it removes the element of objectivity from using specific criterion to score applicants – the main appeal of a scoring sheet.

Very rigid

No one size fits all when it comes to your score system and individual candidates. Using a score sheet to define how you conduct your interview process and interview questions means you’re unable to  stray from set process. This practice is not considerate of the individuality of each candidate – you never know when someone may surprise you with impressive skill but you didn’t think to add it to sheet. One could also argue it’s not an inclusive practice. Someone may have grown up with a certain background which has given them an incredible array of skills – just not the ones on your score sheet. Therefore the template of a scoresheet can actually hinder your interview process and search for talent in this area, instead of help.

If you’re looking to improve your interview and candidate selection process, but aren’t sure that interview scoresheets are the right way to go, book a demo today and find out about the many different ways that Hireserve ATS can transform your approach to hiring.


About the author

Tristan Potter

Tristan has a decade's worth of experience writing content and copy for organisations across Bristol and the Southwest of England. He has written on a diverse range of topics, including technology, philosophy, politics, and recruitment. His writing has appeared in The Drum, HR Grapevine, and The Guardian, among other publications. He joined Hireserve in March 2022.